NASA’s green aviation project, together with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and FlexSys, Inc, is one step closer to demonstrating technology that could make future airliners quieter and more fuel-efficient with the successful flight test of a wing surface that can change shape in flight.
The Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge (ACTE) is a direct result of 20 years of collaboration between AFRL and FlexSys and the ongoing flight tests will determine if flexible trailing-edge wing flaps can both improve aerodynamic efficiency and reduce airport-area noise generated during takeoffs and landings.
In this joint effort, conventional hinged flaps on a modified Gulfstream III business aircraft were replaced with FlexSys’ advanced, shape changing flaps that form continuous bendable and twistable surfaces.
The first ACTE flight was successfully completed on November 6 at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, and was followed by additional successful flights. The testing will continue over the next several months.
The ACTE flaps will be gapless, forming a seamless transition region with the wing while remaining attached at the forward edge and sides. The improved flap should eliminate a major source of airframe noise generation.
If successful, this experiment will enable aircraft using such flaps to be significantly quieter during takeoff, approach and landing. The ACTE project is in line with the goals of the Environmentally Responsible Aviation, or ERA, project under the Integrated Systems Research Program of NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate. The directorate and the Air Force Research Laboratory are jointly funding the effort.
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